Part One: Chapter Eight

I’m kind of in a hurry to get this out because I’m supposed to leave for work in 15 minutes, so let’s hope there’s no typos or anything. Eek!

When she arrived, Ahmed greeted her as promised. He led her in, then turned to her. “Really, I’m so sorry about earlier. I got called into work because they ran short on lettuce, and I had to run and pick it up from the store and take it over there—“

“It’s no problem,” Aurora interrupted him.

He straightened up, and a smile erupted over his mouth. “It’s very nice to meet you, by the way,” he said. “You’re gorgeous.”

She blushed deeply at this compliment. “Thank you. It’s nice to meet you too.”

And, truth be told, he was better looking than she’d anticipated as well. Not that he could compete with Jake or anything, but he had kind of a grunge look that worked well on him. And he was dark-haired, which she’d always been drawn to.

“So, I’m a terrible host because I have no idea what to do. But I just wanted to meet you. I didn’t really think about how to be entertaining,” he laughed.

“It’s no problem,” she repeated. “I’m not hard to entertain.”

“Good to know.” He tilted his head. “So what do you like to do?”

She briefly thought about this before answering, “Sculpt. That’s how I make my living, and I love it.”

His eyebrows shot up on his forehead in surprise. “Really? That’s awesome! I’ve never met anyone who can sculpt before.”

“It’s not hard,” she said with a modest shrug.

“It looks hard,” he argued. Then he smiled sheepishly and said, “Maybe you can teach me sometime.”

They sat down on the couch and continued talking. Ahmed proved a good conversationalist, as he had witty banter that seemed to come easily to him, but he listened well whenever Aurora talked. Which she did. A lot. She found herself rambling endlessly to him about things that were fairly trivial but interesting nonetheless.

“I’m sorry. I won’t shut up,” she apologized at one point.

He laughed and waved her apology off. “Don’t worry about it. If you weren’t babbling, I would be, and frankly I’d rather hear you babble.”

She offered him a small smile in return.

“Well, you did mention that you haven’t been around the island too much. Maybe you’d be interested in seeing some of the sights with me sometime this week?” he asked.

“Like a date?” she asked hesitantly.

His sheepish smile spread over his mouth again. “Yeah. Like a date.”

She bit her lip and looked at the ground. She was afraid of this. On the one hand, she was perfectly at liberty to go on a date, but on the other hand, she really didn’t want to. It wasn’t because of Ahmed; she actually found him charming.

“I don’t date,” she finally replied in a low voice.

To her surprise, Ahmed wasn’t hindered a bit by this response. “Okay, how about a non-date then?” He looked at her with a teasing smile. “Or do you not non-date either?”

She couldn’t help but grin a little bit. “No, I do non-dates.”

“Great. Then I’ll give you a call sometime this week and we can set up our non-date,” he said. It was clear in his voice that he was ecstatic at the idea of going out with Aurora, no matter what the terms were.

The next day, Aurora was cleaning up around the house when her doorbell rang. She wrinkled her brow in confused wonderment at who it could be, but when she opened the front door, her questions were answered. The teenaged Pearl was standing on the porch.

“Hi,” Aurora said, walking outside to greet her. “Are you doing another fundraiser?”

“No, nothing like that,” Pearl said. “I just know you’re new to the island, and I thought maybe you could use a friend.”

Aurora couldn’t help but narrow her eyes shiftily at the girl. What kind of persona was this? Did Pearl know something that had brought her over here in curiosity? Aurora kept her tone clipped as she replied, “I’m 27, Pearl. I think I’m a little too old to be your friend.”

Pearl rolled her eyes. “’Age is just a number,’” she quoted. “There’s a reason I don’t have many friends in school, and it’s because I’m too mature for them.”

It dawned on Aurora that perhaps Pearl’s insistence was due to the fact that Pearl had no friends, not that Aurora didn’t. Her heart went out to the younger female, and she led her inside.

Then she turned around, however, and said, “I appreciate your concern. But my life is too complicated for someone your age to understand.”

“I hate that,” Pearl fumed. “Adults always think that their lives are so difficult and that kids don’t get it. What’s not to get? You broke up with your boyfriend. I understand boyfriends. You’re new in town. I understand being ‘the new girl’. What’s so complicated?”

Aurora was surprised at Pearl’s persistence. She was reminded a lot of herself at that age. And it would be nice to have a female to talk to.

“Okay, okay. You’ve won me over. We’re friends,” Aurora said, smiling kindly. Pearl’s face lit up in response.

The two girls—ahem, young women—spent the afternoon chatting about anything that came up. It turned out they were both vegetarians, and Pearl could crack jokes just as well as she could take them. They turned on the TV and made fun of the anchorman on the news. They discussed Pearl’s romantic debacle in choosing between two boys that were very, very different.

“Jonah’s really popular, you know,” she explained. “He’s handsome and all that. But Philip is so emotional. In a good way, I think. And he plays guitar and wears eyeliner. Although…is there something wrong with a guy wearing makeup?”

“Not at all,” Aurora said firmly, remembering Jake’s gray eyes. She’d never seen him without eyeliner. “And a guy that can play guitar is better than a guy that’s popular, that’s for sure.”

Pearl giggled and nudged Aurora’s arm. “Of course you would say that. You dated a rock star!”

Aurora smiled but didn’t say anything in response. The conversation was edging on painful territory.

Just then, Aurora’s cell phone started to ring in her pocket.

“Shouldn’t you get that?” Pearl asked.

“No, it’s probably just a customer wanting me to sculpt something. They’ll leave a message.” Then a thought occurred to her. “Unless it’s Ahmed.”

Ahmed? Ahmed Barbarossa?” Pearl exclaimed. Aurora nodded, and Pearl squealed. “You’re friends with Ahmed Barbarossa? Are you guys dating?”

“No,” Aurora said firmly. “And I’ve only met him once. But he’s going to show me around the island since I really haven’t seen it all.”

Pearl snorted. “That’s a date.” When Aurora looked at her with quizzical eyes, Pearl explained, “The guys around her all seem to follow the same book of dating rules. Whenever they meet a tourist girl or the new girl on the island, they ‘show her around’, because they know the island is too beautiful a place to resist romantic advances. Trust me. It’s a date.”

Pearl left shortly after that, with promises to visit again since they were now friends. Aurora bid her goodbye with a friendly smile. As soon as the girl was out of sight, however, Aurora’s mind began to race. Was Ahmed trying to trick her into a date? What were his intentions? Was he actually going to try to woo her or something?

Her head started to hurt with all the wondering, so she decided to go outside and work on her sculpture, as it was the only thing that ever seemed to take her mind off of stressful thoughts.

The next morning, Aurora had barely gotten out of bed and dressed when her phone rang. This time, it was Ahmed.

“Good morning, sunshine. Are you interested in our non-date today?” he asked. “I have a great place to show you.”

“Um…” She quickly tried to think of a reason she couldn’t go, thanks to what Pearl had told her last night, but nothing came to mind. So she half-heartedly agreed, “Sure.”

“Take a cab to Lookout Park. The driver will know where it is. I’ll meet you there,” he said.

The whole way there, Aurora twiddled her thumbs nervously. Ahmed didn’t seem like a bad guy, and he seemed to respect her last night when she’d requested that this wasn’t a date. But the seed of doubt had been planted in her mind.

She also wondered why she thought it to be such a bad thing to date Ahmed. He was nice enough, and cute enough. Why not?

But even as she considered these things, she knew she couldn’t. Jake still had too firm a hold on her heart.

Ahmed was there and waiting for her by the time she arrived. “Hey,” he said with a broad smile.

“Hello,” she replied. She looked around the greenery. “What is this place?”

“It’s just a little park. It’s nicer than some of the other ones around here because it’s more isolated, and kids don’t usually come here.” He laughed. “So how are you?”

“I’m okay,” she said tentatively. “Are you going to work or something?”

“Oh, yeah, sorry about this,” he apologized, looking down at his apron. “I’m on call a lot, and I have to be in uniform if I go in. So I’m sorry if this gets cut short.”

“That’s fine,” she assured him.

 

They sat down on one of the benches and proceeded to chat casually. Ahmed, for all his wit and charm, seemed to be fairly awkward when it came to romantic endeavors. For this, Aurora was grateful. He couldn’t even look her in the eye unless he was cracking some kind of joke; she didn’t mind, though. Probing men had never been something she was particularly welcoming of.

“So what are you doing here?” Ahmed asked.

Aurora made a face. “You invited me.”

He laughed. “No, I mean in Barnacle Bay. You’ve been here for a while now.”

She mentally sighed. This dreaded question seemed to follow her wherever she went, and she never really knew how to answer.

“I don’t know,” she said. And this was the truth.

He rolled his eyes. “Really? You’re gonna play the aloof game? The hard-to-get mysterious one?”

She smirked and replied, “I’m not trying to be. Look, my boyfriend has a vacation home down here, and he brought me here because some really bad stuff happened back home.”

Ahmed’s face noticeably fell. “There’s a boyfriend?”

“There was.” She frowned. “Not anymore. He left me and went back home.”

“So I have no competition then?”

Aurora turned to look at him. “What?”

And he leaned in and kissed her.

It wasn’t a messy kiss, nor a deep one. It was quick, light, and rather sweet. Aurora saw it coming, but she didn’t have enough time to react—or she did but chose not to.

He smelled foreign to her, like a cozy kitchen and fresh air. It wasn’t something she was used to, as both Wes and Jake had been reminiscent of city smells: oil, booze, cologne. She didn’t even know a person could smell like fresh air.

When they broke apart, he looked at her with concern written all over his face. “I hope that was okay,” he said anxiously. “I don’t want to make you uncomfortable. I just—I really like you, Aurora.”

She didn’t know what to say or think at first. When she finally did speak, it was in a whisper. “You barely know me.”

“True. But what I know of you, I like.”

She had expected to feel angry or upset about the kiss. But as he tried to make sure she was okay and that they were on good terms, she realized she didn’t feel as badly about it as expected. Just as it had felt good after Wes’s death to kiss kind, good Jake, it felt good after losing Jake to kiss the charming Ahmed.

Besides,” she reminded herself, “Jake’s in Bridgeport with his groupies and girlfriends. He’s not missing you at all.

But the fact was that she was still missing him.

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~ by lilrunningback on June 23, 2011.

2 Responses to “Part One: Chapter Eight”

  1. This didint seemed rushed,i thought it was as good as the others!

  2. I love the legacy! Aurora and Ahmed are so cute! 🙂

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